washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

E. J. Dionne, Jr. says it straight in “Capitulating to the right won’t end the judicial wars” at The Washington Post:Republicans lacked the guts to give Garland a hearing or a floor vote in 2016 because a great many in the GOP had praised Garland, a moderate liberal, as an ideal pick for President Barack Obama to make. The perfect way for cowards to avoid a vote on a jurist they admitted had sterling qualifications was — well, not to vote at all…There is no getting around the truth: A Democratic president couldn’t even get a hearing on someone named to the court eight months before a presidential election. A Republican president is entitled to a vote on someone who will be named less than seven weeks before the election. The partisanship is naked, and it’s on one side…This makes Republicans the real “court packers.” Memo to liberals: The GOP’s abuses make expanding the court morally necessary, but stop calling it “court-packing…If Republicans force through Trump’s nominee, they will have abused their power twice to create an illegitimate, long-term 6-to-3 conservative majority. Adding additional justices is thus an effort to make the court less partisan, less ideological and more balanced. It is a moderate aspiration, not a “left-wing” demand. It is a response to the other side’s court-packing…Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and all of the senators who vote with them are the radicals and the aggressors. The language of the fight going forward must make this clear.”

In “Chief Justice Roberts’s lifelong crusade against voting rights, explained,” at Vox, Ian Milhiser writes, “As chief justice, Roberts has occasionally shown moderation. He famously saved most of the Affordable Care Acttwice! And he more recently cast a surprising vote to preserve the constitutional right to an abortion (although he simultaneously signaled that this right is unlikely to last much longer)…But Roberts has shown no such moderation on voting rights. Among other things, Roberts dismantled much of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder (2013), and he’s joined decisions making it much harder for voting rights plaintiffs to prove they were victims of discrimination. On the basic question of who is allowed to vote and which ballots will be counted, the most important issue in any democracy, Roberts is still the same man who tried and failed to strangle the Voting Rights Act nearly four decades earlier…Broadly speaking, the Voting Rights Act created two separate procedures to stop racist voting laws. Section 5 of the act laid out the preclearance regime I described above, while Section 2 permitted voting rights plaintiffs to bring lawsuits challenging racist laws that are already in effect…Ari Berman writes, “Roberts wrote upwards of 25 memos opposing an effects test for Section 2.” He “drafted talking points, speeches and op-eds for” senior Justice Department officials opposing the amendment, and “prepared administration officials for their testimony before the Senate; attended weekly strategy sessions; and worked closely with like-minded senators on Capitol Hill…This moment of profound peril for American democracy is, in many ways, Roberts’s doing. He’s worked his entire career to undermine voting rights. Whatever happens in the 2020 election, we cannot rely on the Roberts Court to protect those rights.”

Also at Vox, German Lopez has a long article explaining  “How Trump let Covid-19 win,” deailing the Administration’s disastrous mismanagement of the pandemic, including these observations: “America now has one of the worst ongoing epidemics in the world, with the second most daily new Covid-19 deaths among developed nations, surpassed only by Spain…In the months before the coronavirus arrived, the Trump administration also cut a public health position meant to detect outbreaks in China and another program, called Predict, that tracked emerging pathogens around the globe, including coronaviruses. And Trump has repeatedly called for further cuts to the CDC and National Institutes of Health, both on the front lines of the federal response to disease outbreaks; the administration stood by the proposed cuts after the pandemic began, though Congress has largely rejected the proposals…The Trump administration pushed for the cuts despite multiple, clear warnings that the US was not prepared for a pandemic. A 2019 ranking of countries’ disaster preparednessfrom the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and Nuclear Threat Initiative had the US at the top of the list, but still warned that “no country is fully prepared for epidemics or pandemics.”

Meredith Conroy and Perry Bacon, Jr. break down “The Partisan, Gender and Generational Differences Among Black Voters Heading Into Election Day” at FiveThirtyEight and observe: “According to recent Democracy Fund polling, 83 percent of likely Black voters favored former Vice President Joe Biden, 10 percent favored President Trump, and 8 percent said they didn’t know which candidate they will back.1Recent Morning Consult polling found almost exactly the same thing — 84 percent for Biden, 10 percent for Trump and 7 percent undecided or favoring a third-party candidate…But this gender gap is favorable to Biden in an important way — Black women tend to vote at higher rates than Black men (64 percent of voting-eligible Black women turned out in 2016, compared to 54 percent of Black men)…Among Black registered voters age 50 and older, 75 percent said they thought congressional Democrats were doing a good job, compared to just 22 percent who thought congressional Democrats were doing a poor job, according to a HIT survey conducted in June. But among Black voters under age 50, only about half (54 percent) approved of congressional Democrats, while 36 percent disapproved…Biden had more support among Black voters who were college-educated and those with higher-incomes, according to the Nationscape data. So it might be that more established Black people (older, more educated, higher income) are more satisfied with the Democratic Party than other Black Americans.”

From “Demographic shifts since 2016 could be enough to defeat Trump” by David Wasserman at the Cook Political Report: “In 2020, noncollege whites are on track to make up about 43 percent of the nation’s adult citizens, down from 46 percent in 2016…Meanwhile, whites with four-year degrees, who are trending blue and increasingly behave like a different ethnic group from noncollege whites, will make up 25 percent of adult citizens, up from 24 percent in 2016. And Black Americans, Latinos, Asians and other nonwhites, historically Democrats’ most reliable supporters, will make up 32 percent, up from 30 percent four years ago…A new interactive collaboration by NBC News and The Cook Political Report finds that if 2016’s rates of turnout and support were applied to 2020’s new demographic realities, Trump would narrowly lose Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — more than enough to swing the presidency to Joe Biden. And, Trump would lose the popular vote by about four points, roughly double his 2016 deficit…At the moment, Trump’s bigger problem is that Biden is winning more noncollege whites than Hillary Clinton did in 2016. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows Biden losing them by 23 points, whereas exit polls showed Clinton losing them by 37 points. That would be more than enough to offset modest gains Trump has made since 2016 among Hispanics and other nonwhites.”

New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall posits “Five Things Biden and His Allies Should Be Worried About.” and notes, “A Democratic strategist — who requested anonymity because his employer does not want him publicly identified talking about the election — analyzed the implications of the most recent voter registration trends for me. In Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, he said, overall registration is up by 6 points through August compared to the 2016 cycle, but net Democratic registrations are down by 38 percent. That’s about 150,000 fewer additional Democrats than were added in 2016. In addition, he continued, registration among whites without college degrees is up by 46 percent while registration by people of color is up by only 4 percent. That gap is made more stark when you realize that over the last four years, the WNC (white non-college) population has increased by only 1 percent in those states, while the number of people of color increased by 13 percent. The pattern was more pronounced in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin than it was in Michigan.”

“The biggest news out of The Economist’s release this week of its Senate model is that it gives Democrats a 67% chance of winning 51 seats (and the the majority) on November 3.” Chris Cillizza writes at CNN Politics. “But look a little deeper into the model’s projection and you see this: Democrats have a 1 in 3chance of winning at least 53 seats and a 1 in 5 chance of winning at least 54 seats…(Quick note: There’s no question, when looking at the landscape, that major Democratic gains — along the line of a 6- or 7-seat net pickup are possible.  At the moment the Cook Political Report, a non-partisan campaign tip sheet, rates 10 GOP-held seats in its most endangered categories as opposed to just two Democratic seats.)…If Schumer, say, is overseeing a 51-seat Democratic majority in 2021, he can only afford to lose two votes of his colleagues on any major legislation…And with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema — both of whom have voted with Trump’s positions more than 50% of the time, according to 538, certain to be in the Senate at that time, it would complicate Schumer’s efforts to go BIG in terms of major reforms as a means of payback for what Senate GOPers are going to do with the Supreme Court…Now consider how different Schumer’s outlook would be if he was sitting on a 53- or 54-seat majority. He could afford to let Manchin and Sinema go their own ways on this issue or that — and still be left with wiggle room to get things passed by simple majority.”

In his post, “States of Play: Ohio: After Trump maxed out the Buckeye State’s rural areas and small town areas, can Biden max out the suburbs?” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Kyle Kondik writes: “Ohio insiders believe that the state is closer than last time, and that Donald Trump is struggling mightily in suburban areas…Still, Ohio should vote considerably to the right of the nation, thanks to its high percentage of white voters who don’t have a four-year college degree — a strong group for Trump — and its smaller-than-average nonwhite population, a group that is very Democratic…Suburban areas in general, and the Cincinnati and Dayton areas in particular, would likely be a key part of a Biden path to victory. But Trump is still better-positioned to win the state…Ultimately, the Crystal Ball still rates Ohio as Leans Republican…If Biden were to win Ohio, though, Trump’s path in the Midwest — and to a second term — would be blocked…That Trump spent precious time in Ohio earlier this week suggests that the battle for the state is not yet finished. In 2016, the Trump campaign felt good enough about Ohio that Trump skipped the state in his final tour of swing states the three days before the election. Whether Trump can do so again the final weekend of this campaign might tell us something about how well his campaign believes he’s doing.”

Almost every day, Trump threatens to disrupt the election and prevent a fair vote count, and yes there are reasons to worry about what he can get away with. A lot of attention will rightly be focused on election returns in the bigggest swing state, Florida, which looks like a close contest. At New York Magazine, Jonathan Chait notes that “the rickety constitutional structure is poorly suited to handle a disputed election. One of its massive loopholes allows state legislatures to ignore voters altogether and appoint any electors they want to the Electoral College. Respecting the results of the election is merely optional, a norm. And norms have been falling by the wayside.” However, “Biden is currently on the cusp of a victory decisive enough that Trump’s machinations probably cannot stop it. Florida, which is roughly tied, tabulates mail-in ballots quickly, and a Biden win could cut short Trump’s room for mischief.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.